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10 Things I Learned In The First Year Of Marriage - Part I


Everyone's marriage is different but the first year of marriage is said to be a year where you learn A LOT. Now, I have to be very grateful because when other people say this they pretty much insinuate that there is a lot of tension, fighting or stress. Michael and I didn't really have that. Yeah, sure, we argued and had to adapt a bit but we were lucky enough to be the kind of people that 'forgive and forget.' Our first year was wonderful because of this but also because we're best friends (yep, I know, cliche). We have had so many great experiences and I personally did learn a lot. What I enjoy the most is that every lesson was a good lesson that helped me be the best spouse I can be.


Here are 5 of the 10 things I learned in the first year of marriage:


1. Stereotypes don’t apply:

There is a lot of advice out there for married couples. When you’re newlyweds, or preparing for marriage EVERYONE has an opinion or idea of what the ideal relationships look like, what a good spouse is, and whether you’re making the right decisions. But, guess what? Every marriage is different which is why I stopped reading relationship advice books a LOOONG time ago. Why? Because they are too generalized! Michael and I never seem to fit into a specific relationship type and the advice doesn’t apply to our situations, emotions or personalities specifically. Our relationship doesn’t fit into a specific category and this is a beautiful thing. I’ve learned that we are both unique and our relationship is unique. Even when asking for advice from other married couples, friends or family, that advice often needed adapted/tweaked to fit our unique relationship. I’ve learned that stereotypes don’t apply, and Michael and I don’t have to fit into any category. We just need to be who we are with each other.


2. What Is Worth Fighting Over:

One of the most common pieces of advice you hear given at weddings is “don’t go to bed angry” but I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to learn not to fight. I can see those married couples who’ve been married much longer than me rolling their eyes and saying ‘you’re going to fight, no matter what.’ But I’m not saying don’t fight at all. I’m saying: learn to pick your fights wisely. There are ALWAYS going to be things your spouse does that annoy you and you will argue about. I definitely recognize this. However, it’s my choice as to whether I let those things drive me nuts every day or do I ask myself ‘is it worth getting worked up over?’ Yeah, OK, I’ll admit it is totally infuriating how differently Michael organizes his stuff, but is that worth fighting about? Not usually. What is usual is that the stupid things bug me more when I’m stressed about something else. I take it out on his unique (and frustrating) habits rather than talking about it. I’m lucky to see this in him too. When we get overwhelmed or stressed out we both get moody and are more prone to fight. I've learned to ask myself seriously 'is this worth fighting over?' Which brings me to my next lesson:

3. Don’t take it personally:

We all have bad days. It’s just a fact. The wear and tear of work, late nights completing projects, unexpected sicknesses are events that can throw of a routine, making a good person downright salty. When this happens, I try very hard not to take a bad mood personally. If Michael has a bad day and because of that he does something out of frustration which upsets me, I try to remind myself that he’s not doing it to hurt me. It’s not personal. He’s just having a bad day. Now, I definitely defend myself and let him know not to take it out on me, but I follow it up by asking what’s wrong. He does this for me too, which I deeply appreciate and usually it leads to an apology and a big hug. Instead of taking it personally when we get snippy with one another I’ve learned it’s important to evaluate the other persons mood and keep a level head when I can.


4. Be the first to say sorry:

This is probably one of the harder lessons I learned in my first year being married. I’ve had to say I’m sorry a lot and so has my husband. But, what I’ve realized is it’s hardest to say sorry after the arguments where you feel you’re right about something. Arguments aren’t always cut and dry like they are in the movies. Often each person’s reasoning has a bit of truth to it and being right or wrong isn’t easy to define. Most likely both of you walk away feeling no need to accept the other person’s opinion but firmly believe your way is the better choice. This is where I’ve learned it’s crucial to apologize. Why? 1. Usually disagreements cause a lot of stress and it can escalate quickly into a non-constructive argument where neither party feels as if they are understood 2. Apologizing shows that you value the other person’s thoughts and emotions even when you disagree. 3. It lowers the tension, allowing for clearer communication. It’s definitely not easy, and I’ve had to swallow my pride many times to simply say ‘I’m sorry for not listening better.’ But It is so important to try and be the first to make a genuine apology.

1. It’s worth the risk:

Let me say first off that getting married is actually a huge risk. It is a pretty radical choice if you think about it! Marriage, in all of its greatness opens you up to a greater chance of being hurt both spiritually and emotionally. How? Through the uncertainty of whats to come. Unified through a sacrament, Marriage requires one to be completely trusting and at the same time vulnerable to one another. Committing yourself to someone for the rest of your life may be commonplace in today’s society but it is always a HUGE leap of faith. When we began our married life together, Michael gave me his heart and I gave him mine. I have to trust every day that Michael won't do things to bruise the gift of my heart and he has to trust I won't either. What makes that so risky is that neither of us are perfect. We're going to make mistakes that hurt one another. We're going to try our hardest not to, but it's bound to happen eventually. Not only are we imperfect but we are also going to see one another at our worst and it's going to be painful at times. Along with this we’ll make a lot of huge life decisions together. Through our life we'll risk moving to another state, changing careers, raising kids, and buying a house. All of these things involve a lot of uncertainty but it is definitely worth the risk. It's going to be hard to see one another at our worst, to be hurt, and to take those leaps of faith over and over again. But, we both learned that the love and friendship we share far outweighs the risk. In fact, we've learned that this uncertainty only helps our relationship grow stronger because we are able to support one another! Like the leap we took when we devoted our lives to one another before God, the risks we’ll be taking are all worth it.



In two weeks look for the final part of this dual entry, "10 Things I Learned In The First Year Of Marriage - Part II"


-Rachel

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